A joint statement with Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and Revenue and Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer said that current search fees attracting a $40 fee will be cut to $19 – but not until 1 July 2019.
This will “reduce the burden on individuals and businesses that need to access company roles and relationship extracts from the online registries,” it said.
Meanwhile, all journalists will be provided with free access to all registry searches, in a bid to facilitate a better and more transparent flow of important information as part of their work.
Currently, only selected journalists are exempt from paying fees, and only on certain registries.
The searches provide detailed information about a business or director, including whether they have a history of being associated with failed companies. Many businesses, particularly smaller ones, often rely on the registries as part of their credit assessment of potential customers or suppliers.
“Both measures will reduce the impost on those seeking information on companies, organisations or corporations. Furthermore, expanding the group of journalists that will benefit from the exemption from fees will aid public discussion,” the statement said.
“The government acknowledges the advocacy of Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick for these reforms to increase the accessibility of the business registries to journalists and the wider public.”
Ms O’Dwyer previously admitted that the fees are purely a revenue raising exercise for the government, and do not go directly towards covering the costs of maintaining the registries.